I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately, mostly mine. I try not to think about other people’s relationships too much, as I find comparing myself to others to be lothesome, and yet sometimes unstoppable. But it’s been a few years since my last serious relationship/heartbreak and I think I’ve finally come to the place where I’m ready to try again (in large part because I think going through life with someone to share your burdens and joys with makes life easier and more enjoyable, at least that’s what it looks like from the single point of view).
Sadly I never got the knack for dating and turning dating into a relationship. I’m a jump in with both feet kind of guy. Something I’ve been working on the past few years, learning how to be patient and actually date. It’s not going well. When things aren’t going well I tend to fall back on my old standby, ie: long distance dating.
I’ve always been a believer that the odds of the love of my life living just a few blocks away or even in the same city as me are not in my favor. I also know that as a man of size the number of other men who are interested in me and not ashamed of it (more on self loathing chasers in some other post I’m sure) are few and far between. So when someone messages me from out of the blue telling me that they think I’m attractive and we have a stimulating conversation that goes beyond asking me what I’m into, I get kind of excited. This happens on a semi-regular basis thanks to the magic of apps and the internet. What also happens along side of that, is they are multiple states away.
So what’s a big boy to do? Over the years I’ve racked up enough airline miles, and logged enough time in the drivers seat of my car traveling to see these interests that I would be embarrassed to calculate the number, if it were possible. And here I sit, still single. A few of distance ventures have turned into genuine friendships and the effort made has been worth it as far as connections go. The rest have been lost to make room for lyrics to a new Britney song, or movie quotes.
I think the distance thing is possible and works for a lot of people. Yesterday during lunch with my co-worker, I had an epiphany. Aside from some of the guys who I traveled to see being assholes, one of the main reason my long distance conquests didn’t turn into a relationship had a few things in common:
- Lack of effort on both our parts. I figured, the first time I come to see you, the next time you come to see me. Usually I was the one logging the hours, money and effort. But why didn’t we make it to another trip? Things just kind of fade away after I return. Me expecting them to give a little more of themselves, them expecting me to do the same and neither of us do.
- Intensity. When you don’t know when you’re going to see each other again, you try and savor each moment. The time and effort you’ve put forth needs to be worth it, so you cram as much “memorable” things in as you can. It becomes a three day romantical experience. Know what happens when people are being romantic for three straight days? They aren’t themselves. You don’t meet friends, or family or see what their apartment looks like when they’ve had a hard week and don’t want to do anything except sit on the couch and eat pizza and watch tv.
- Chemistry. Getting to know someone via phone, text, email is great. There is no physical distraction from actually having a conversation, but at the same time, there is no physical connection either. No touching, no kissing, you don’t know what it feels like to rest your head on their shoulder. Maybe it’s awful. maybe they’re boney or they try and hold your hand like it’s a flipper. Maybe the chemistry isn’t there and you realize you’re not going to go anywhere so you part ways…well, on a three day date, you can’t.
- Projects. I love a project boyfriend. I could write a Bob Vila style book on fixing up your man to be exactly what you want him to be. For me, I see a guy who doesn’t have a job, thinks I’m hot, lives far away and says he wants to meet me and will if I buy the ticket, and I picture the ring I want to buy him and where we’re going to hold our wedding. I see red flags and think they’re showing me the way. Kind of like in a horror movie, when people hear a noise upstairs when they’re alone in the house, i’m not running out the front door, I’m sprinting up the stairs with a welcome basket full of unrequited love, anxiety and a new pair of pants I’m just sure he’ll look great in.
So…what’s a big boy to do? I’m ready for an adult relationship. I’m taking my experiences and knowledge and applying them to my dating life (I realize I’m quite old to be doing it and at this point I should just settle with anyone who will have me, but I’m still going to make an effort). Part of that means, if I like someone, I’m going to put the work into getting to know them and making time for them. I’m going to see red flags and project boyfriends and say “you know what, no. I got myself together, you should be able to do the same. If you have a plan, awesome, I’m happy to help, but I can’t be the guy who does all the work on your behalf.”
I think that’s a fairly good jumping off point. It’s not everything, but it’s a start, and I have to start somewhere.